Kerstbierfestival-behind the scenes-final part
Posted by Gunter aka March on 01/08/2004 03:48:10 PM
Dec 13: showtime !
Got to the venue at around 9AM. As the beer in the storage rooms was already put in order on Friday afternoon, we could start with putting up the Christmas trees and decorating the hall, and of course putting the numbers on the beers, and the beers on the shelf, connecting the kegs, putting the tables in place…luckily we had hard working volunteers to help us out.
Putting the numbers on the beers revealed some beers from last year that weren't on the list. Among others: La Jamagne de Noël, from Mibrana and Super Noël des Fagnes,…we decided to sell these in the "shop" only, it would have caused to much trouble getting them on the list. Other beers we couldn't find at the last moment, or were too few to sell: Kerstbier Gaverhopke and Meestersbier Kerst. Too bad, but things like that can happen when you prepare an event like this with only 5-6 people, who all have jobs that take much time.
Around noon I got an SMS message of the Babble Belt's two Danish guys, Jacob and Martin. They first went to eat something, and afterwards they helped us out a bit with decorating the quiet room in the back.
When the doors opened at 1.45PM there were already 20-25 people anxiously waiting to get in ! The press was there to talk with us, the mayor came in, the crowd was getting bigger and bigger. I saw lots of people with whom I would have liked talking to a bit longer, Babble Belt friends, Zythos people, American people, English people, Dutch people, Long-time-not-seen O.B.E.R. members… but it was getting crazy : final score of outgoing glasses on the Saturday was 500, compared to 400 in 2002. More to come in 2004, as English "beer hunt organizers" John White and Podge, who were checking out the fest this year, will each bring a coach of beerfriends with them on the next edition. I hope we'll find more chairs and tables when it comes so far.
I was extra pleased to see Loek Klasen at the festival, he was in the organization the previous years, and still keeps us posted about new beers, but he had been seriously ill, being in the hospital for a while and he had to through a serious operation. He was still very weak and couldn't speak much, but he looked surprisingly well. A miracle in medical terms, they had called him. Anyway Loek, if you read this, I can't say how glad I was to see you at the fest and doing so well.
Overwhelmingly positive comments on the fest overall, the only thing that worries us is the limited size of the hall. We hope we'll find a good solution in the future, but there's just no bigger venue that close to the railway station. We never could have imagined that this hall would get too small for our humble fest. Keep in mind: the first years we only used the main hall, and closed the curtain in the middle at times when there were no more people in the back part.
Another good thing: Since some of our British, Danish and Swedish guests brought some interesting stuff to trade with some of our Christmas beers, I got a good stash of international beers in my cellar, anxiously waiting to be tasted and rated! Anders, a Swedish guy, traded a "Julöl" for the road map of Belgium we had put on the wall at the entrance.
At around half past 1AM we turned out the lights, so the few visitors that were still at the fest
got the idea it was kind of closing time. One of them was Hawaiian actor Ian Jon Bourg, who plays the title role in "Das Phantom der Oper" in Stuttgart. He's a true beer lover, was at the fest in 2000 as well, then joining us for a final drink at local pub 't Volkshuis.
Counting victims on the battlefield of beer : two 30l kegs down : Stille Nacht and the exclusive Triple de Noël from des Fagnes. We were all amazed that there were already two kegs empty on the Saturday. This never happened before!
Bottles: De Drie Wijzen and Affligem Cuvéé 2000. Stoofvlees : only 5 kg left of what was 20 when we started. Cheese: completely sold out. Luckily we get some more cheese, and more kilos of stoofvlees could be prepared! I don't know how the soup survived, if it survived in the first place.
Beery highlights for me on Saturday were the Bush Prestige, nice newcomer Li Berwette, and of course the Stille Nacht brewed in 1992, and generously poured and shared by our friend Marcus, from 'the beer desert of Luxemburg'. It's probably just me, but I just don't get the Stille Nacht when it's young, but with ten years of age I think it's a masterpiece– or was it the Rodenbach yeast that made the older one more interesting? (note to myself: buy Stille Nacht in huge quantities and stock it for ten years…wish my new cellar was already in use)
Sunday started very quiet, as usual, however, 10-20 people were already in a tasting mood. I found myself a place behind the bar, serving beers until 3.30PM. A short bit after opening Alexander Al came in to volunteer behind the bar for a while, he's a Dutch O.B.E.R. member since this year, and I only met him in newsgroups on the internet. As his postings are always somewhat critical and strait to the point, I didn't expect a friendly young bloke like he turned out to be. He first said he couldn't volunteer for a long time, as his dad accompanied him, nevertheless, he served beers for a couple of hours longer than he intended!
Around three a busload of Deltabrouwers came in. For this home brewers club from Zeeland NL, the Christmas Beer Festival is a must-do event every year. We always try to do a return visit to their 'Delta Bier Festival' in march. there's a nice interaction between our clubs.
My sister had arrived and I decided to join her and my brother in law on her fist visit to the festival. As they were trying the 'la 1900' by Gigi and the 'Li Berwette', I spent my free tokens on a 'Special Oerbier Reserva'. This beer was the top of the festival for me: a bit tart, with wonderful wood flavour – a bit geuze-like. The crowd, and the amount of American and English people in the room amazed my sister and brother–in–law.
After they left, more friends came in, so I had to join them in for another beer. The people from the Roosendaal Beer Guild were there to talk with, more friends came in…I went from the one place to the other.
We closed the place around 10PM. Final score of outgoing glasses was 360 on the Sunday, which is a bit less than last year, but of course Saturday sure made this good. Cleaning and getting our stuff together took until 11.30PM. It was a heck of a weekend ! Thanks to all people who visited the festival, and especially to all volunteers, even if they only could help for one hour or so.
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